10 Types of Carnivorous Plants

Carnivorous plants are not only highly functional, they are also beautiful. Which ones should you consider raising?

Carnivorous plants are very unique specimens, and they make great houseplants to eliminate problems with different insects and those pesky fungus gnats.

Carnivorous plants use sweet-smelling nectar, bright colors, and tiny leaf hairs to entice prey into their leafy traps. Once captured, they use their digestive enzymes to break down the bug and extract the nutrients.

If you’re considering buying one of the plants, keep reading to learn more about the different types that you should consider!

Which One Is the Most Popular?

Venus flytrap is the best-known plant, thanks to the movie “Little Shop of Horrors.” When insects try to taste the plant’s nectar, its distinctive “jaws” clamp shut.

The problem is that Venus flytraps aren’t all that easy to grow. That’s because they have to go through dormancy every year in order to stay healthy. Venus flytraps evolved in a temperate climate, where they spend several months of the year hibernating.

Which One Is the Most Effective at Trapping Flies?

Pinguicula and Drosophyllum are both flypaper traps that can quickly take care of fungus gnats.

Both plants have sticky traps on their surfaces. They can catch a lot of flies because of their large surface area. They will be much more effective than Venus flytraps if you have a fungus gnat infestation.

A bladderwort carnivorous leaves with trapped insects

Can They Survive Without Bugs?

Carnivorous plants can survive in the absence of insects. Because they are plants, they can survive by photosynthesis and do not require insects to stay alive. All they need is regular and attentive care. While they can live without bugs, they will grow at a slower rate.

Besides, it is likely that your plant is feeding on bugs without your knowledge. While no one likes to think about it, unless a house is spotless, there are actually quite a few bugs in it.

10 Carnivorous Plants

1. Sundews (Drosera)

Sundews are plants that capture creatures with sticky hairs on their leaves. They are one of the most abundant carnivorous plant species on the planet. Long tentacles extend from their leaves, each having a sticky gland at its tip.

These droplets resemble dew sparkling in the light, thus the name. The glands produce honey to lure prey in, a powerful adhesive to keep it caught, and enzymes to break it down. When a bug is caught, neighboring tentacles coil around and choke it.

Full grown sundew drosera

2. Venus Flytrap (Dionaea Muscipula)

This distinctive bug-munching member of the sundew family is the most popular of the carnivorous family.

A jaw-like hinged part of the leaf is ringed with spiky “teeth” around the edge and a number of very sensitive hairs. The trap snaps shut when an insect lands and makes contact with these hairs. The trapped prey’s writhing action activates enzymes that break down the bug’s body over many days. 

The plant is so advanced that it can even recognize non-prey stimuli like rainfall.

A dionaea flytrap plant near the window

3. Butterwort (Pinguicula)

Butterwort plants are small plants that can go unnoticed until they bloom. The leaves have a delicate greenish-yellow hue, which is most likely where the plant gets its name. It might also be due to the leaves’ somewhat oily or buttery texture. The plant grows in low rosettes and blooms with yellow, pink, purple, or white flowers in the spring.

Gnats are these little plants’ favorite food since they provide critical nitrogen for the plant to use.

A butterwort insectivorous plant in a flowerpot

4. Monkey Cups (Nepenthes)

Because monkeys have been spotted sipping from the leaves when thirsty, this carnivorous pitcher plant is also known as “monkey cups.”

This plant can reach a length of six meters and can carry up to two and a half liters of digestive juices. Because of its enormous size, it eats more than just invertebrates. Frogs, lizards, birds, and even rats have been attracted into the “cups” and dissolved in acid.

monkey cup ampullaria jack plant

5. Bladderworts (Utricularia)

This species, sometimes known as swollen bladderwort, is native to the southern United States.

It lives in a state comparable to other aquatic bladderworts for most of the year. It is devoid of genuine roots and leaves. Instead, it forms a long, filiform stolon with bladder traps at the ends coated in microscopic filaments that act as leaves. It floats in the water, devouring every little thing that happens to fall into its path.

Yellow flowers of a bladderworts

6. Dewy Pine (Drosophyllum)

The carnivorous leaves of the Dewy Pine resemble pine needles coated in small beads of sweet-smelling dew. When old carnivorous leaves die, they form a branching stalk that resembles the woody stem of a tiny tree.

Its dew drops have a sweet honey scent and actually detach from the plant when an insect comes into touch with them.

Dewy pine curling leaf plant

7. Waterwheel Plant (Aldrovanda)

The Waterwheel Plant is a rootless, free-floating aquatic plant. It is very similar to the Venus flytrap and shares many of its characteristics, including the ability to serve as a snap-trap carnivorous plant. The main difference is that it lives on top of the water.

It is known as the waterwheel plant because a single whorl of leaves cut off a stem resembles a wheel.

Each leaf in a whorl ends with a little clam-like trap. The exact mechanism through which the trap encloses its prey is complex. Aldrovanda has trigger hairs in the trap lobes. When they are triggered, the traps close.

8. Cobra Lily (Darlingtonia Californica)

Cobra lily pitcher plants are endemic to North America and may be found in nutrient-depleted bogs. The plants propagate asexually by runners and stolons and blossom seldomly. They are one-of-a-kind plants with outstanding structure and unusual beauty.

The plant’s most distinguishing characteristic is the modified leaves that ascend from the base and culminate in hooded foliage. The leaves are shaped like hooded cobra heads and collect energy from digested insects. Because these plants’ environment is often deficient in nutrients, this is crucial for the plants’ survival.

The hood emits an enticing aroma, luring in unwary creatures. Once they are trapped in the leaves, the plant secretes digestive enzymes that break down the prey’s body.

cobra lily plants in the home garden

9. Corkscrew Plant (Juncus Effusus)

The corkscrew plant is a strange semi-aquatic carnivorous plant. It has incredibly attractive yellow or purple rosette-shaped blooms on the surface and hides all of the deadly carnivorous trap underneath. 

The inside of the corkscrew plant is coated with directional hairs, allowing prey to enter via openings along the leaf’s body and slide down. But if the prey attempts to travel backward, it will get trapped.

Corkscrew plants indoor curly leaves

10. Pineapple Plant

Although pineapple plants are not true carnivorous plants, they can consume insects. The plant generates the enzyme bromelain. This is a protein that degrades other proteins into polypeptides and amino acids, in this case, animal proteins.

The pineapple plant has not adapted to trap animals. But the leaves at the top of the fruit are meant to gather water, and every now and then, a little insect, like a fly or an ant, may get trapped there. When the bug starts chewing on the leaf to get out, bromelain is released from the plant, which begins to dissolve the insect.

Pineapple with pink eyes in the farm
Alaine Connolly
Alaine has been working way too hard in horticulture since 1992, beautifying golf courses, resorts, and hotels. She is a part time landscape designer who works full time caring for a 28,000 square foot public garden. At home, she maintains her own 400 square feet plot. Alaine lives in northern Illinois - zone 5b.
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